In 2008, I took a bit of a leap from my then 16 year old advertising agency to form a technology company with investors and developers and some crazy ideas. That has been one of the most transformative experiences in my business life. But that’s not what I want to talk about here.
Our first rollercoaster ride was into virtual reality. In 2008, when nobody was there and Facebook probably hadn’t heard of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset (which they bought in 2014 for $2 billion), we built a virtual world online dating site because it had been proven that daters would go to that very elusive second date if they experienced each other virtually first.
Then we thought Augmented Reality might be an interesting adjunct to VR, which is a way of meshing the real world with the digital. Think – you’re looking through your iPad screen via its camera and when it sees your friend it turns him or her into Chewbacca from Star Wars. As she walks around, she is Chewbacca as long as you keep looking at her through the iPad screen. (It had to recognize your friend first and then wrap her in Chewbacca skin.)
We were early with both these innovative technologies and we later discovered that they had huge opportunities in marketing (see video above). The times are changing and the market is ready for virtual and augmented reality.
We see virtual reality being used already in tourism where you see the place you’d love to visit in virtual reality – as if you are there. We see augmented reality in allowing you to try on clothes virtually, using both VR and AR to accurately size you. We also see it in amazing form in this example of demonstrating a refrigerator without having to go to the store. LG Fridge example
What do you think about these new experiential technologies and how much more likely you would buy if you could use them in your shopping experience?
To my delight, Apple just released its next iteration of the ever-evolving OS X. I generally get very excited about the most miniscule updates and improvements in software and UI, so today’s release of ‘El Capitan’ was no exception.
So what’s diff with El Capitan? The new ‘custom font’ still makes me feel uncomfortable… Apple. But, I understand it’s been hitting the accessibility gym hard. A hiding menu bar, split view, a flat ‘spinning wheel of death’, new Notes app, improved Spotlight, pinning Safari tabs, and maps including transit routes are a few noteworthy changes.
However, my favorite feature has to be Safari’s new ‘Develop’ tools. It has a responsive design mode within Safari that lets you quickly, and easily, test out a page design using different user agent strings, screen sizes, and device types. So neat, I'll be putting this functionality to the test asap.
Anyone loving or loathing the new San Francisco system font?
Sidebar: El Capitan (spanish for The Captain, The Chief) is a peak in the Yosemite Valley, California; 7,564 feet.
In honour of #NationalDogDay, here’s the story of how Max came to be part of my family:
6 months after I started working at Fusion, converted by the cuteness of a long-haired chihuahua named Coco, I knew I wanted a dog. I just had to convince Kent. Once he was on board (it didn’t take much), talk quickly shifted to what breed we wanted.
Honestly, I don’t remember all of our criteria, but I distinctly recall both of us at some point mentioning the “cute dog in the toothpaste commercial.” I’ve tried to find this commercial several times over the years, with no luck. The whole commercial was red and white and filmed like a musical, with the running theme of choosing the whitest item in the bunch. (It must have been for some new whitening toothpaste). At one point, a group of dogs is shown, and when one is plucked from the group, it’s the fuzziest super white dog. We both thought it was the cutest dog we’d ever seen, and liked the fact that it wasn’t a common breed. We literally googled “white dog from toothpaste commercial” and eventually figured out it was an American Eskimo. More googling revealed that there was an American Eskimo breeder in Manitoba, and within 2 months, we brought Max home.
Max, the day we brought him home from the breeder
To this day, we can never remember what toothpaste brand it was (Colgate? Crest?), but we will always remember the face of those smiling dogs. So, lesson learned marketing peeps, if it’s brand recall you’re going after, don’t feature cute dogs your ad!
Although most would consider every day as, “Social Media Day” there is only one day a year that celebrates it globally.
Started in 2010 by social website Mashable, “Social Media Day” was initiated to acknowledge how social websites have grown and influenced our everyday lives. Whether it’s checking the latest scores or looking for design inspiration, social media websites and apps have opened us up to the world and left it at our fingertips.
As accessibility rises, social media enables information to be spread instantly. Whether you see this as a good thing or a bad thing, it shapes our behavior and continues to influence how we interact both online and in society. Often blending both…need I say more than, #selfie.
For now, we’re celebrating #SMDay by sharing our favourite social media accounts:
Content marketing has moved from a niche brand offering to a marketing-must in a big way. It’s hard to think of a brand that doesn’t offer some kind of personalized content for its audience.
These days, people have unparalleled control over the ads that reach them. They can skip commercials, exit online ads, and skip YouTube pre-rolls after four (long, anguishing) seconds. Traditional advertising is now served up alongside the content that people are really trying to engage with – whether it be an article, Mad Men episode, or viral cat video. What’s different about content marketing is that it provides engaging and relevant content in and of itself.
That’s not to say that content marketing should stand alone. A brand can’t start a blog and end all other marketing and advertising efforts. More importantly, a brand can’t launch a blog without strategy. Content marketing should weave flawlessly into social media marketing and complement traditional advertising. It should match a brand’s personality, and be in-tune with its audience.
Good content marketing engages people and gives them something to come back for. Doing it well takes imagination, intuition, and strategy. And though every business should offer some form of content to their audience, they shouldn’t do it without strategic planning. It takes work and focus. But a successful effort can further brand awareness in an unprecedented way.
One success story we can speak to is Spark, a fashion and lifestyle blog we developed together with St. Vital Centre. Even though Spark was something we had envisioned for a while, it took years to come to fruition. There were marketing phases we had to undergo to ensure that there was an engaged audience ready to consume our content. We created a plan that was multifaceted, moving in stages from awareness and branding, to social media engagement, to content offering.
Early in our relationship with the Centre, we worked on increasing brand awareness with billboards, transit, and in-Centre signage. We spent time creating awareness of St. Vital Centre as an accessible and relatable lifestyle brand. Once awareness was achieved, we began to work on creating a more interactive and engaged brand, by building a social community and focusing on two-way advertising versus the traditional one-way. We created a social media presence for St. Vital Centre, and engaged audiences with contest microsites, quizzes, and frequent giveaways. We also began to elevate the fashion facet of the brand, producing unique style and beauty content for social media and seasonal campaigns. The high audience engagement and overwhelmingly positive response confirmed both the desire for this type of content, and its ability to affect sales.
For us, a blog was a natural fit for St. Vital Centre. Their brand is stylish and fun, aspirational but attainable, in-the-know without being a know-it-all – the perfect voice for a fashion and lifestyle blog. There was a void of high quality fashion blogs in Winnipeg, and we saw a perfect opportunity to fill that void.
Spark has been producing content for just over a year now, and together with our client and a talented support team, we continue to produce content that excites us as much as it informs and delights our audience. Developing good content is no easy task, and involves ongoing planning and post writing, coordinating and directing regular photoshoots (including booking models, photographers, and videographers), website maintenance, and more. Aside from content development, we are also in charge of bringing traffic to the blog. We achieve this through social media, contests, email subscriptions, in-Centre hoarding and backlit posters, and even in-store, on our “As Seen On Spark” product tags and stickers. Spark averages over 4,000 hits per month, and is steadily increasing.
And most importantly, the Centre has continued to report ongoing sales increases in key categories since the blog's inception.
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